Tuesday, October 13, 2009

But They're Known for Raincoats

I have a bit of a conundrum. I purchased a beautiful, black drawstring bag online a while back. It's made of a lovely pebble grain texture and holds just the right amount of excess. There's a bit of hardware, too, but it's a tasteful amount. The problem is that wherever there is hardware, there's the company name engraved in sizeable lettering.

I only have a couple of bags with logos or names as a part of the design—and I tend not to wear them terribly often. But I'm not sure if I'm more concerned about the name being there because it's so large or because of who made it. The company is known more for rain mackintoshes, not fine accessories. It's not Burberry, either. At least they've successfully executed a full lifestyle brand with Christopher Bailey at the helm.

Since this mystery company just entered the leather goods universe within the past couple of years, they haven't established themselves as purveyors of luxe looks. Their trench coats are ok, but they're more high school principal during a rainstorm than Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

I've been considering taking it to my cobbler to have him turn the offending grommets inside out. I thought my days of Labelwhorism were over. Perhaps your local Style Therapist isn't as above the nonsense of associating worth with labels as once thought.

I've worn the bag in public once, but it was dark and raining. It's certainly not fair of me to tell my clients not to get caught up in designers and brands if my Labelwhorism isn't totally cured. I've taken a couple of extended release It's Not That Serious pills—prescribed by me, of course. Let's see if they work.

Best Dressed Video of the Day: Wild Child (Metal Week)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gut Feeling

The other day I was shopping with a client in SoHo, and despite the throng of people crowding the sidewalks, I was able to witness one of the most egregious outfits I'd seen in a long time. Now, I never project my own personal taste onto my clients, but I do stress the importance of wearing clothing that is flattering on their individual frames.

A young lady, who couldn't have been more than a size 2, had created the illusion of a massive gut, à la Patrick Starfish. I first noticed her from behind because her silhouette was so extreme—not in an avante-garde or Talking Heads manner, either. She had on a charming tweed peplum style blazer, but she went down a treacherous trajectory when she decided to wear it with a billowy, bubble-style top and low-rise jeans.

Ladies, and you gentlemen, too, it's ok to create curves or definition where they may not exist to create balance. However, when the result is off-scale to your natural proportions, you can come off as a scorching, sweltering hot mess. Please check yourself before you wreck another outfit!

Best Dressed Video of the Day: Photograph (Metal Week)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Table the Label: A Cautionary Tale of Labelwhorism

Years ago, when I was barely into adulthood, I suffered from an acute case of Labelwhorism. I purchased items based on designer name, no matter how atrocious or unflattering. I'm embarrassed to mention the Cavalli jacket in a putrid mint green that made me look sallow or the Moschino nylon "leisure" jacket in a similarly nauseating color. Think Mike Brady office wear.

I wore each of these items only a handful of time, but never truly loved them. I moved on to sunglasses because they were less obvious. Oh! The marvelous, deep navy Dolce & Gabbana darkers that I was happy to wear, except for the fact that they crushed my temples because they were too small. I ended up losing them at the Metropolitan Drugs on 14th St. I'd popped them on top of my dome while cruising the aisles and didn't even realize they'd fallen off until they were long gone. Clearly I didn't miss them that much.

But the ones I remember most are the Fendi shades I bought so I could get the case with the signature Zucca print. FFFFFFFFFs for days. Like the Dolces, they weren't the greatest fit. The bridge was too wide, but I managed to balance them on my face for a minute. However, when I lost these, I was a bit more miffed because they weren't lost, they were purloined by some tweens in New Jersey.

Picture it. Giants Stadium. June 2001. I was attending the 'N Sync Pop Odyssey Tour. My friend had tickets and the group put on a marvelous show. I have no shame in admitting I had a great time. When we arrived, it was still sunny, so I kept my darkers on. As dusk came, then eventually nightfall, I tucked them in my tote bag, which had no closure.

I kept my bag either on my lap or at my feet. Somewhere in between It's Gonna Be Me and the closing song Bye Bye Bye, one of those screaming brace-faced youngins sitting behind me snatched my little conspicuously consumed item. Bye bye bye was right.

Admittedly, the constant sliding down my face made me not miss the glasses terribly, but the fact that some gals sitting directly behind me could snatch them with such ease was unsettling. Those girls are young women now—around the same age I was when I attended the concert. I'm not one to indulge in schadenfreude, but I certainly believe in karma. Hopefully they got good wear out of the glasses...someone had to! But I do hope they didn't graduate to stick-ups or grand larceny.

I have one pair of sunglasses now; they're Italian like the rest of them, but the name isn't worth mentioning. They're simple and inconspicuous, with the name ingraved in tiny lettering at the temples. They suit my face and, just as importantly, they're comfortable. I've had them for a good 8 years now and have taken them to different countries without incident.

The moral of the story is to buy based on how appropriate an item is for you, your body, your lifestyle, and your existing wardrobe. Roberto, Stefano, Domenico and Karl are not sponsoring you. They're not paying you to wear their wares. So listen to Mr. T. and "Table the label."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What a Waist

I own a vintage, dirndl-style Yves Saint Laurent skirt that's one of the most cherished items in my wardrobe. It's from the designer's Spring 1980 Rive Gauche collection and it's constructed from a beautiful black cotton that's simultaneously sturdy and soft.

One would think, once you go ready-to-wear you never go back, but there's a little thing called cost of living in NYC. So I make due with what I have. One day very soon though...

The skirt is exactly the size of my waist—no bigger, no smaller. I'd been wearing it all morning two Fridays ago, and up until lunch time, I was quite comfortable. However, I stuffed an entire platter of Indian food down my throat. Let's not forget that nan expands once it settles into your digestive system...or at least it feels like that. Some bubbles from a bottle of San Pellegrino helped, but that didn't cure my overstuffed feeling.

Later that night I met up with Jess to see Fat City at Film Forum. After the film we noticed David Byrne in the lobby. And to strike up a conversation, I thanked him for all of his Brazilian Luaka Bop releases and kept it moving. Perhaps one day Mr. Byrne will be thanking me for spreading the Style Therapy message to the masses?

In any case, Jess and I (sans David Byrne) headed to El Paso on West Houston for dinner. Who does Indian and Mexican in span of 6 hours? Your Style Therapist, that's who. After downing the most beautiful chimichanga I've seen in a while, I began to feel the repercussions. You know those pregnant women who are in denial and insist on wearing their pre-baby bump clothes and belts tightened to conceal their condition? That's how I felt. How my skirt made it home without ripping at the seams is a miracle.

My natural waist had expanded by a good 3", and mind you, there's no elasticity, whatsoever, in my favorite skirt. The only casualty was a button that had been a little dangly prior to my gluttony. This is a cautionary tale to all of my beautiful clients. Please, when wearing your more more choice pieces that can't be replaced, stay away from the curry vindaloo.

Best Dressed Video of the Day: Do or Die (Disco Week)

Sunday Best Has Evolved Into a Hot Mess

This past Sunday I went to a christening at a local church. The interior was rich in religious motifs with biblical references showcasing lush colored stained glass windows. Frescoes on the ceiling beautifully depicted Christ, the Virgin Mary, along with angels and apostles. While it wasn't as vast as St. Peter's Basilica, it was comparable in its grandeur.

Despite this ministerial magnificence, I felt overdressed as opposed to underdressed in my simple, black knee-length dress with 3/4 sleeves and princess seams. The majority of the congregation, with the exception of the friends and family of the little guest of honor, were dressed in everything from swishy, nylon track pants, to camouflage printed sweats, and well-worn running sneakers.

Back in my day, before I became a heathen and went to church every Sunday, men donned suits and ties and women wore dresses or skirts. Now I don't believe that God cares what we wear when we worship Him, but I think we should. Some people looked like they'd just rolled out of bed. In fact, one woman I was sitting behind had bed head—literally. There was a big old section of her hair that had clearly been flattened out by her pillow. She didn't even run a comb through her head.

I understand the house of the Lord is meant to be all-inclusive. No one should ever be made to feel unworthy of being there. I know at times church can feel like a fashion show for folks. Some worshipers are more concerned with who's wearing what than the message in the sermon of the day. My point is that no one would ever go to a job interview in track pants or partying at the club in dirty, faded jeans.

I know it's 2009 and not everyone needs to wear a floral dress with an Easter bonnet, but can we pretend like we're someplace special? Church or temple or the mosque are not the same as a tailgate party at Giants Stadium or running to the bodega for some Ding-Dongs. If we're going to do the casual thing at our respective places of worship, can we at least be neat about it? Whether it's jeans and sneakers or dresses and pumps, let's make sure there are no wrinkles or stains. Forget about God saving the queen, I pray that He can save us from hotmessness.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Best Dressed Video of the Day: Hit and Run (Disco Week)

Every Girl's (and Security Guard) Crazy 'Bout a Sharp Dressed Man

Whether or not you believe that the suit makes the man or the man makes the suit, it's worth noting that the suit can be your get-out-of-jail-for-free card. Last week Wednesday, Ronald Tackman, a career criminal decided to bring his sartorial A-game to the next level. A level your Style Therapist didn't even know existed. He escaped from the Manhattan Criminal Court Building by assuming the role of a sharply dressed attorney. He was so convincing a court officer even asked, "Counselor, what are you doing here?"

For all you naysayers out there who still don't believe how you're dressed counts for something, enjoy your pitiful existence in your stained college sweatshirt and crumpled corduroy blazer with elbow patches falling off. Yes, Susie Dirtyshirt of Kalamazoo, Michigan. I'm talking to you! How many sweatshirts can one person own? Don't think you're off the hook Professor Ian Messy of Park Slope. You've been sporting the same tired tenured tuxedo (corduroy blazer and matching slacks) for far too long now. You think it's beneath your intellect to care about your appearance, yet you spend a good 15 minutes disarranging your hair to give it that unkempt, "I care about more cerebral things" effect. By default, you're not better than the rest of us in terms of self-branding, or you would have cut off that bird's nest a long time ago.

Despite my tiny tangent, I hope everyone realizes the importance of putting a bit of effort into appearance and carriage. I'm not condoning Mr. Tackman's behavior, but I must give credit where it's due. Clothing counts and the sooner we get our arithmetic together, the sooner we can escape the imprisonment of stale style.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why I Do What I Do

I took a sabbatical from The Style Therapist blog this summer. A little traveling was involved (Barcelona, Rome and upstate New York), but I never took a break from actual Style Therapy. Style Therapy never sleeps!

I linked up with the client I've been praying for the entire time I've been helping folks make their closets more efficient. She's got a marvelous attitude and we've essentially recreated her new wardrobe from scratch. After a Closet Detox and our initial shopping trip to Saks, she wrote me the loveliest note:

Hi Simone!!

We were out of town and I have been meaning to drop you a quick email. I cannot thank you enough for your assistance on Thursday! I have never had a better time shopping that I can remember. You made me feel comfortable, energized and eager to get out there and shop for things that I need for work clothing…but also want to be excited about!! Your assistance made me feel special, and I am convinced that guy in the Saks shoe dept thought I was famous!!

I wore my new skirt, top, jacket and shoes on Friday for a presentation and I felt like a million bucks! In addition, my clients were able to pick up on my positive attitude and good feelings, which made our appointment (and my presentation) that much more fun and interesting!!

When can we get together again? I am really excited for our next adventure.

{Wiping away a tear}

This is what makes Style Therapy worthwhile. It's not simply about getting rid of the clothes you don't want or haven't worn in a while. It's harnessing the positive energy that can result from bringing your sartorial A-game. Remember, a hot mess closet reaps a hot mess life.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Spring Love (Freestyle Weekend)

Let 'er Rip

I don't know why this is becoming a trend, but some young "ladies" have been roaming around the downtown area of the city wearing ripped tights. Now I'm a child of the 80s, I understand the concept of ripping perfectly good clothing. I think the look is tired and unbecoming, but if you insist on doing it, make sure you have the gams to back it up. The girls I've noticed are no match for Betty Grable and her legs.

With Style Therapy I stress to my clients to embrace their bodies and dress the body they have now. Play up what you're proud of and camouflage areas you're not terribly pleased with. In other words, work with what you've got.

The lasses I've been seeing are on the shorter, stumpier side. Their goal should be a streamlined look to create length in the legs. In this case less truly is more. The rips and holes create such an ugly and unpleasant leg, aside from the sloppy slob factor, the eye races all over the place, creating more width than length.

Some of you may be saying, "Style Therapist, maybe these girls like their less-than-long-and-lean legs." If they truly loved their less-than-long-and-lean legs, they'd pretty them up, not dirty them up with tattered hosiery.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lovey Dovey is Yucky Yucky: Get a Room!

Love is in the air, but in a rather polluted form. The other day I was waiting for the train to come and I witnessed some of the most egregious attentionwhoritis I'd see in a while. There was a young couple who seemed more in love with the attention they were receiving than with each other. The female had on a bright fuchsia bubble jacket (look at me! look at me!) with an equally bright purple purse. Her brown hair was streaked in orange and black stripes. And she finished off her look with black tights and well-worn Uggs. Her man was wearing quiet, muted colors. His dirty blond hair was as flavorless as his moss-colored parka.

What made this duo spectacularly annoying was her bizarre habit of picking him. She was a petite young woman and he was more of a lanky beanstalk, so she barely got him off of the ground. But she kept trying and trying and where she was trying is what made this couple so unbearable. These two goons were smack in the middle of the platform, so passersby had to be quite strategic if they wanted to maneuver around them. While girlfriend picked up boyfriend, boyfriend was looking around to see who was enjoying their lighthearted love. It wasn't a look of embarrassment. It read more like, "Aren't we cute in love?" No sir, you two are repugnant.

Back on Valentine's Day, again I was on a train, this time it was the L—you know how that goes. The Admiral and I were sitting down after a lovely (but not too mushy) day. Standing over us was a young lady with her ironically (or sincerely) unkempt boyfriend. She was kissing on him and he was kissing on her. In her hands she gripped one of those pitiful roses wrapped in cellophane. That's not what was offensive. Her goon of a boyfriend and I were facing off in a staring contest. I'm not sure if he 1) wanted me to see how great of a boyfriend he was for giving his girlfriend a lone, pitiful rose wrapped in cellophane, 2) wanted me to join in, or 3) was suffering from a bad case of attentionwhoritis. I hope he read in my face that I thought he was a gross, damn fool.

This past Wednesday I was on a rush hour train with an equally annoying couple. Again, it was the male who was committing the majority of the egregious acts. First of all, we're supposed to do our best to "stand clear of the doors." The train was crowded, but not that crowded where one couldn't grab onto a pole. This couple glued themselves to the doors and whispered and forehead kissed and pinched and tickled and giggled for all of us to see. The young man attempted to make eye contact with several people as this foolishness was going on. Your poor Style Therapist was one of the victims. I hope my visceral reaction was enough to show him that I thought he and his lady were whackadoodles.

My point isn't to knock young love, it's to bring light to how gross it is to have an intimate moment in a public place and then scan the area to see who's looking! Parents, please give your children attention so they don't grow up to be adults with acute cases of attentionwhoritis. Then they become society's problem.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Just Got Paid (New Jack Swing Week)

New Service: Star Style Guide

Hello Beautiful People!

If there's one thing I love as much as fashion and art, it's astrology. I believe it's a marvelous way for us to discover the very essence of who we are objectively. The best way to figure this out is to know our birth chart (also known as natal chart). This tells us every aspect of our personality: who we are in public and private, our role at work, how we deal with romantic and platonic relationships; etc. We can't be our best selves if we haven't the slightest clue who we are.

Which brings us to Style Therapy. As I've stressed, my mission with Style Therapy is teach wardrobe efficiency and effective non-verbal communication through dress. If you're unaware of who you are, you can't possibly be dressing with yourself in mind. That's why I've launched a new service for the more evolved of you out there.

With your Star Style Guide you'll receive an in-depth analysis of your birth chart that includes what I think you should be wearing to maximize sartorial synergy. My Virgos should not be walking around dressed like Aquarians. And my Scorpios should not be shopping in the same manner a Gemini would. All twelve signs are different, but when we delve much deeper and discover all the aspects included in our birth charts, we'll look at ourselves in a new light and adjust our wardrobes and shopping habits to suit ourselves.

The steps are quite easy:

1. E-mail me at simone@swstyletherapy.com with your date of birth, place of birth (include city, state/country so I know the time zone), and time of birth (as close as possible—no worries if you don't know.)

2. I'll e-mail you back a confirmation and a prompt to login to your Paypal account, click on the "Send money" tab and type "advice@swstyletherapy.com" in the "To" box, and "40.00" in the "Amount" box.

I can hear it now. Some of you are saying, "$40?! Style Therapist I can't afford $40." I know who you are. You're the same one who was in the club with that Forever 21 dress you only plan on wearing once. We've been over this. Cost per wear! I'm trying to save you time and money in the future. From the bottom of my heart, I want you to always bring your A-game. Bring your A-game to pick up milk at the bodega. Bring your A-game to work. Bring your A-game to meet the parents. Bring your A-game because you know you're worth it! And the most efficient way to sartorial self-discovery is through a Star Style Guide.

I don't claim to see into your future like Miss Cleo or read your energy like CB Walker, but I can guarantee you the best wardrobe specifically for you! If we don't have sartorial synergy, we're basically a walking, steaming, sweltering hot mess.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rei Kawakubo Knows What's Up

I own a flat, black leather Comme des Garçons (no, not from the H & M line; we've been over this) tote bag. It's by far the simplest accessory I own. There are no pockets, buttons, zippers, bells, or whistles; just two panels of leather and two handles. Most interestingly is how the bag was designed to carry only the essentials. While the bag is deep, if I carry a bottle of water, the shape is grossly distorted, compromising the aesthetic integrity of the bag.

I think our girl Rei Kawakubo knew exactly what was up when she conceived this bag. The only way this tote can retain its shape is if I kept my impedimenta to a minimum. Interesting word, impedimenta. It's the Latin plural for impedimentum, which means "baggage or other things that retard one's progress." Basically JUNK.

As our bags continue to grow bigger—in essence the SUVs of leather goods—we manage to stuff them with impedimenta: fat wallets, two-way pagers, mobiles, bottles of San Pelligrino, iPods, brown bag lunch (we're in a recession, remember?), check books, makeup case, scarf to accommodate the indecisive weather, last month's Bazaar, this month's Paris Vogue, feminine hygiene products, Moleskine notebook, moisturizer, Altoids, lip balm, sunglasses, sunglasses case we never put the sunglasses in, French pocket dictionary even though the trip to Paris was over two years ago, phone charger, those MC Hammer pants that refuse to float away so we plan on consigning them, flats to change into when the heels get to be too much, impedimenta that's been under our work desks for month, ticket stubs, loose receipts, camera and camera case we never put the camera in, Hi-Liter markers, Sharpie markers, mechanical pencil, book we should be reading but haven't gotten to because of the Bazaar and Vogue, yesterday's lunch from Los Dados, a smaller bag for later in the evening because this tote bag is too big, big tub of cocoa butter...

And we wonder why one shoulder is lower than the other.

The New Crackhead: Crack Really Is Whack

Remember my little visit to the Armory Show with the loutish and oafish gallerists from around the world? Well, I'm afraid I neglected to include a new trend I began to notice there. It may not even be a new trend per se, but it wasn't until then that I really got a good look at it. The context was different than walking down a random street. I expected people to be dressed comfortably for all of the walking around, but with some degree of refinement. We're looking at art, right?

Apparently, I'm an old fart who takes sartorial practices and manners a little too seriously. Speaking of flatulence, this "new" trend has to do with the posterior. It has come to my attention that it's now acceptable to show one's crack when seated. No longer the domain of the bent-over/squatting plumber, the exposed crack is essentially southern cleavage.

The Armory Show's seated visitors aren't the only ones with vertical lines on full display. Restaurants, stadium bleachers, and park benches all play host to the new crackhead.

People, people, people (shaking head). Come on. This lowrise business has not only created muffin tops but butt cracks free in the breeze. I know those of you who indulge in this vulgar practice can feel the air. It's not from ignorance. You feel it! For one, the daily high temperatures are still relatively low. Let's not even talk about how incredibly sloppy this look is. It's even crossed over to celebrities and lad mags. Cracks are not sexy! What happened to A-game and neatness counting? Pun coming up...we've got to draw the line somewhere.

Style Therapy Video of the Day (Chas Jankel Week): Get Myself Together

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Size Zeroes Can Be Muffins, Too

When I was in Miami this past December, the Admiral and I had brunch at an overpriced, palate-underwhelming restaurant along Collins Avenue in South Beach. Like many cities with true tropical climates, clothing is often brightly colored to reflect the natural hues in the environment, spare to accommodate the heat, and tight to show off a beach-ready body.

I grew up in South Florida, so I'm used to the stark sartorial differences between the Sunshine State and the Big Apple. But when I was a young lass, we didn't have muffin tops. Even though this trend (no doubt inspired by celebrity moms-to-be) has been relentless for the past five years or so , I've never grown accustomed to it. For the life of me I can't wrap my brain around it. Those Hollywood moms get away with exposing their bellies because there's a person living in them. Regular guts don't count. But for the record, I don't think an exposed gut on the street is cute whether you're preggers or not. Octomom anyone?

I just want to know why a young lady would leave her home with her gut spilling out? I don't have a six-pack like a That's the Way Love Goes Janet. And no one knows that because I keep my tummy under wraps. Even Janet lost her That's the Way Love Goes six-pack.

Muffin tops are usually seen on naturally thicker girls. Remember, Style Therapy is all about embracing the body you have now! None of this, "I need to lose 5 lbs. before I can bring my A-game." So I'm not knocking thicker girls. But the Collins Avenue muffin top I saw on that fateful day was no thick girl. If I had to guess her size, she's hovering somewhere in the 0 to 2 zone. I'd never seen anything like it before. Her waify body was carrying Homer Simpson's gut. In her lowrise jeans and too-short top, she was letting it all hang out. Now I'm not contradicting myself here. I said embrace your body as it is now, not walk around town looking like a hot mess. Neatness counts whether you're a 0 or 22; NEATNESS COUNTS!!

It's ok not to have washboard abs. It's not ok to look like you're being squeezed to death by your jeans. Ladies (and gentleman), let's all take a few extra seconds to examine ourselves in the mirror before we walk out the door. Check to make sure there are no hanging threads, stains, lint, loose buttons, or loose guts. Remember your A-game doesn't consist of exposed gut-flesh. And as for you six-packers out there. I know you've worked hard to get to this point and I applaud your efforts. But frankly, I don't want to see your guts either. Open-air stomachs are for the beach, the gym, and MAYBE the club on the RAREST of occasions, not for the streets. The only person this looks cute on is Dora; and she's subtle about it.

Style Therapy Video of the Day (Chas Jankel Week): Questionnaire

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mood Shifters

My beautiful people, there's nothing more un-stylish than a sour mood accompanied by a screwface. For you Secret believers out there, you know all it takes is a mood shifter to elevate our spirits. A mood shifter can be anything from a scent that takes us back to happier place, a food that heightens are tastebuds, or a detailed image that puts a smile on our face. For me, it's usually the thought of a late 1980s heavy metal band comprised of drunk basset hounds. But for others, it could be one of the Macho Man's appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. Below is a list of videos/songs that always work out any bad kink in my mood. If these don't work on you, you may need to see a professional.

1. I'm Ready-Kano: Keep an eye out for Diane and Lumberjack at 1:17.

2. Disco Bambina-Heather Parisi: The song is absurd and her Italian is questionable—and that's rich coming from me and my one pathetic semester of studying the language—but it's earned the right to be on this list.

3. Basset Hound Puppies: If this doesn't erase your screwface, there aren't enough meds in the world to cure you of your ills.

4. A Basset is an Asset: Yes, another basset hound video. How this hasn't penetrated the Billboard Hot 100 is a mystery to me. They ride motorbikes, too (2:17).

5. Rubberband-The Spinners: These guys knew how to perform. Now this is showbiz. Talk about A-game! A powder blue tux with ruffles never looked so good.

6. Jim Gillette's Scream: You don't have to be a metal head to appreciate this man's vocal range.

7. Macho Man on Arsenio Hal: Find out what the difference is between MachoMadness and Hulkamania. It'll change your life.

8. What's Up With You: Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy: I don't recall this video from its debut in the early 90s. A friend introduced it to me just last year. It's simultaneously disturbing and heart-warming.

9. Children's Palace Commercial: Peter Panda has the same effect on me as the What's Up With You video.

10. Shake It Up Tonight: Aside from the basset hounds, this puts me in the most stellar mood. Do you see young people? You do not need to grind on each other at the club in order to have a good time.

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody

Is Label-less Worth Less?

I own the loveliest Martin Margiela grey sweatshirt. I love you sweet sweatshirt! I wear it quite often and in a world of different ways. It's no secret how much I adore the staff at the Maison on Greenwich Street and how I enjoy the deals at Century 21. But at the end of day, when all of the work is done and the kids are tucked away, it's just a simple grey sweatshirt.

For some time the label has been dangling by dint of a loose thread on the back of the pullover. I'm not a good sewer, not even in the rudimentary sense of the word. So when it falls, it's gone. But I often wonder, my beautiful people, is a Margiela (or any other designer piece) worth any less without the label to identify it. On a consignment or resale level, absolutely. The store buyer and the potential customers have no way of knowing if something is made by a specific designer without documentation—the label.

I don't foresee myself parting with this plain, little number any time soon. But even in the quiet of my own closet, do the labels matter. I'm afraid I have to answer in the affirmative. I pride myself on not being a label-whore in the most obvious sense. You know the type, LV, F, GG, and CC plastered all over bags, jackets, sneakers, visors, and umbrellas. But I'm no better than they are. I just keep my label obsession/complex under wraps. Literally. I do, however, have some vintage Gucci bags that I carry on occassion. (Check out works by artists Peter Gronquist and Tom Sachs for more on fetishization and consumerism.)

From birth we're all about validation. Whether we're getting high-fives from dad for receiving high marks on our report card or hearing mom brag about how pretty we are to her friends, we're reminded that our self-worth is quantifiable. Some folks manifest it differently. A Maseratti does the trick for the recently signed rapper, while getting that corner office is just what the father-of-three in the suburbs needs to feel special.

I'm certainly not saying that if I were stripped of all my sartorial goodies I would instantly perish. I've got some clothing hanging in my closet that's on the bottom rung in terms of designer hierarchy. Mystique and Necessary Clothing in SoHo anyone? No doubt there's an issue of quality, but that label still has a powerful presence no matter how ill-fitting or well-made the garment is. And on some level, I have to dress a certain way to attract more clients for Style Therapy. But there's one thing we must remember. I don't mean to get all Joel Osteen, but God doesn't love us any less if we wear Mystique instead of Margiela or shop at Filene's instead of Fendi. And the Style Therapist doesn't love any less either. ((Hugs))

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Chega Mais

When You Take A Picture of Yourself...

My beautiful people, when you take a picture of yourself, please remember to crop your arm out of the picture. We've all taken personal snapshots for either a laugh or do to sheer boredom. But I would argue that at times, self-picture-taking is akin to talking to yourself; but that's not what this post's about. We're talking about self-branding.

I can't tell you how many Facebook profiles contain a large batch of people either snapping themselves in the mirror (the lowest of the low) or stretching out their arms and quickly taking a shot. In both cases, the subject can come across as being vain. Whether you are or not is beside the point. Others have taken pictures, with camera in full-view, of an outfit or haircut they thought was cute. Ain't no shame in that game. If you think you're cute, document it. But you lose cool points for doing it yourself...or at least clearly showing to the world that you're doing it yourself.

We live in a time of digital cameras. We're able to easily set these on timers, run to our spot, and make it look like a friend or loved one was so enamored of us that they had to take a picture straight away. But when you've got the camera in plain view? (Shaking head)

Come on beautiful people. Let's get ourselves together and stop being so obvious about it. Until we do have that friend or loved one at hand to snap a picture, set that timer! And if you can't set the timer, crop your arm out of the picture!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The other day I made a trip over to Cognac to have brunch with a dear friend. Wanting to enjoy the unseasonably balmy weather, I waited outside and indulged in a bit of people-watching. Since the restaurant is as midtown as one could possibly get, there was an interesting mix of people. There were folks leaving the matinee showing of Shrek the Musical, looking up at the lights of Times Square with mouths agape, or heading up to Central Park in a hansom cab.

All of these people seemed like your everyday, run-of-the-mill, standard warm bodies roaming the streets at midday in midtown. But there was one who stuck out, I mean really stuck out. This young lady...and I use that term with a great deal of circumscription...in any case, this young lady was walking down the street in black leggings. No major calamity there. Who among us does not own a pair of black leggings? Let he who is without sin and black leggings cast the first stone. It wasn't that she showed up in black leggings, it's what the black leggings were showing. Her reproductive organs were there for the world to see. Everything! It's not as if these leggings were super tight, they were just thin and reflective.

Some of you are asking, "Style Therapist, why were you even looking?" Why was I looking? It's like asking someone not to look at Octomom's belly during her third trimester. The young woman's anatomy was THERE. She was just bopping down the street in her sunglasses and Urban Outfitters scarf, impervious to what was going on below her southern hemisphere. The fact that the fabric was shiny was not helping matters either.

My beautiful people, the moral of the story is to check and re-check your bits and pieces before you leave the house. Sure, some people enjoy exposing the imprint of their biology and others enjoy looking. These people are called perverts and you certainly don't want to be associated with them. Or do you?

I Confess

I talk a lot about cost per wear. Basically you take the cost of your Proenza Schouler blazer (retails for $1,285) and divide it by the amount of times you wear it. So if you wear it every other day of the year (let's not factor in the dry cleaning bill just yet), that's roughly $7 each time you throw it over your shoulders. On the other hand, if you wear your Forever 21 floral strapless dress (retails for $22.80) to the club just that one time, then the cost per wear is $22.80. So in the long run, the higher priced item is the better value in this case. But that's not how we operate, is it?

Three years ago I had just started working with Tim Gunn at Parsons School of Design. Each year there's a benefit runway show that highlights the best and brightest of the graduating class. A lot of important people attend this show in hopes of finding America's Next Top Designer. From Anna Wintour to Barneys Julie Gilhart, true architects of fashion careers are seated at every other table.

While the evening was all about the students, I was not going to attend it in the printed pajama pants my Mommy sends me every Christmas. I set out to buy the most exquisite shoes I'd seen in a long time: the Yves Saint Laurent Dada pumps. When I was ready to purchase the shoes, a tiny voice told me to call up one of the stockists that sell YSL and have them put on hold until after work. Barneys didn't have them. Neither did Saks or Bergdorf's. I called both YSL boutiques and was relieved to find out that the second one had the last pair of size 38.5 in North America (this includes Canada and Mexico). Oh yes, there was another problem. Since I'd left a potentially lucrative career in pharmaceutical advertising for fashion, I'd taken a steep pay cut. I had to borrow the money from my boyfriend and pay him back in two installments. (Look of shame and embarrassment.)

At the 57th street boutique, the shoes felt like cinder blocks on a steep incline. I could barely walk in them and I certainly couldn't flex my feet; but I had to have them. The evening of the benefit show, I wore my beat-up flats to the venue and changed into the Dada pumps while sequestered upstairs. My boy Bill Clinton didn't notice them, but Anna Wintour certainly did. I saw her checking them out from a mile away and I felt marvelous! I felt even better after the event was over and I limped over several avenues to the subway, comfortably back in my beat-up flats.

You know how Oprah says that love shouldn't hurt? Well, neither should fashion. I only wear the Dadas once a year to keep the cost per wear ratio balanced and to prevent coming off as a hypocrite. I encourage all of my clients to donate or sell any items they haven't worn in over a year. Not only do I think the pumps make for great fashion, but I also regard them as a work of art; or at the very least, an important part of an important collection for YSL Creative Director Stefano Pilati. Excuses excuses. I'm a self-enabler. Sorry Dr. Phil.

eBay always has an abundance of Dada pumps, varying in color and style. Clearly there's a population of women (and men) out there who can't be bothered to walk around in these cinder blocks on nails. I'm not ready to give up mine just yet. I'm going to work with my cobbler to see what we can do to make them more comfortable. If that doesn't work, there's a spot saved for them on the mantle.

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Come Candela

Monday, March 16, 2009

The GAULlery

Last Sunday I attended the final day of the Armory Show at Piers 92 and 94 on the west side of town. A week earlier, I'd gone to the Works on Paper show at the Park Avenue Armory. Both events showcased modern and contemporary artists (established and rising...as well as a few old masters) represented by international galleries. Both events also showcased the rudest mongrels who were more concerned with eating their limp sandwiches and chatting with fellow gallerists than saying a quick "hello" to anyone who entered their lame cubicles.

You don't have to attend art fairs to be on the receiving end of this colossal level of incivility. There are enough shops around town with bad-mannered staff to fill a horn of plenty. Sometimes it seems the higher the quality and/or price tag, the clearer the view up the nostrils. But this isn't the case with everyone. I want to take this opportunity to offer some shoutouts and biggups to the ones who don't assume the naughty haughty attitude some feel they have to project when working within rarefied realms...there's a Duane Reade bonus shoutout, too!

1. The Armory Show: Garth and Sunny of Gary Snyder Project Space were the only ones out of all of those white cubes in both piers to say what's up. In this economy? In this bloody art market?! One?

2. Works on Paper: Hal Katzen of Hal Katzen Gallery. He not only said hello, but he spoke at length about the artists he represented and offered to negotiate the prices.

3. Jeffrey: Some times the staff can be a little hungry for their commission, but they're never to the point of breathing down your neck or following you around the store like a lost puppy. They seem genuinely warm. Perhaps some southern hospitality brought up north by Atlanta native Jeffrey Kalinsky? An early occupant of really far-West 14th Street (at no. 449), Jeffrey made it chic to go west. Before them, anyone headed in that area was most likely paying a visit to the Liberty Inn hourly motel.

4. Maison Martin Margiela: Located on the southern end of the Meatpacking at
803 Greenwich Street, I've never purchased a piece there. I get all of my Margiela at Century 21 for now. Shhh! This has never deterred this dedicated staff from helping me and thoroughly discussing the history of the Margiela's design philosophy and each season's collection. By far, the sincerest sales associates in all of New York City!

5. Zero Maria Cornejo: Located down the block from MMM at
807 Greenwich Street, unlike the Margiela outpost, I have dropped a few dollars here. Again, a knowledgeable, unaggressive staff more interested in ensuring a pleasurable shopping experience, as opposed to making sales.

6. Shelley Steffee: Around the corner at
34 Gansevoort Street is this marvelous boutique with truly beautiful pieces that are sculptural and cerebral without making you look like a damn fool. The space is gorgeous and the small staff is always willing to help without being pushy or impatient.

7. Theory: A couple of doors away at
38 Gansevoort Street is my old stomping ground. It's not because I used to work in the corporate headquarters upstairs; the sales staff in the flagship don't know who EVERYBODY is. Like the aforementioned shops above, the Theory crew was always warm, knowledgeable about the merchandise, and interested in creating a relationship with clients.

Comme des Garçons: Situated in the middle of the Chelsea gallery ghetto at 520 W. 22nd Street is this architectural masterpiece and discriminating shopper's emporium. Good luck getting that rather heavy-a** door open; but once you do, you'll be welcomed in. Like Martin Margiela, Kawakubo is a designer's designer. This mindset undoubtedly trickles down to the sales floor. When the clothes speak for themselves, there's really no need to put on airs. N'est pas?

9. Balenciaga:
At 542 W. 22nd St, just down the block from Comme des Garçons, is this cavernous cache of high end goodies with a lovely sales staff.

10. Yohji Yamamoto: This brick and glass building at 1 Gansevoort Street, shaped like a slice of cheese, is anything but. Not only does it house some pretty pricey socks, but my boy Mauricio holds the fort down with his hooked mustached and shiny, bald head. The best thing about this Venezuelan transport isn't the fact that his business card says "entertainer" as his occupation, but that he wants to buy a goat. That being said, someone with such a colorful presence could never harbor the boorish and graceless demeanor of the gallerists at the shows and sales staff at some other designer boutiques.

**Duane Reade and Walgreens**: While not perched on the highest rung of the retail ladder, I have to give a special shoutout to the Duane Reade located on the corner of Third Avenue and 10th Street and the Walgreens at 20 Astor Place. The other day, at the Duane Reade, one of the associates at the register patiently listened to an older woman complain to him about how some young chick had referred to her Labrador Retriever as a beast. "No one calls my dog a beast!" She assured the young man as he nodded in agreement. The line was building up a little, but he never rushed her and she talked about how great her dog was. This may have not been the most efficient thing to do, but she was clearly a frequent customer and he gave her the respect he thought she deserved. Hats off to you, young man with the cornrows and winning smile!

The folks further down at the Walgreens are by far the most professional sales associates out of all the pharmacies in town. The other day I needed to purchase some products that every woman has to purchase throughout the year. When I reached over the young man restocking these items, I made a silly joke and we both had a bit of a laugh. At some other store, my business may have been put over the PA system. You know how they do.

In conclusion, I'd like to stress that an affected superior air will win you no friends, and certainly no sales. When my pockets start bursting at the seams with dollars, I'll remember kindness and return the favor.

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Who's Johnny

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Style Therapy Video of the Day: I'm Ready (As Seen on Detroit's The Scene)

Deal or No Deal

In the midst of the R word (if you have to ask, you're doing okay), retailers has been bending over backwards to accommodate thinner wallets. Saks Fifth Avenue knocked 75% off of their high end items. But come bill time at the end of the month, indulging in these deals can get us into trouble.

A lot of folks will look at a pair of $895 Loubies at Bergdorf's and keep on walking. For some it's a month's rent; for others, a student loan payment. Even for the people who call that sum mere pocket change, it's difficult for them to justify spending that type of loot during this period of economic uncertainty. Put the same pair of pumps on the cluttered shelves of a Loehmann's or Century 21 and drop that price to around $200, and things change significantly.

$200 is an entirely different ballgame. It's still a lot of money to a lot of people (cable bill, a couple of phone bills, the proverbial student loan payment), but it's a number that's easier to digest than $895...which is almost $1,000 once you throw in taxes. The rationalization starts even before we see if the shoe fits. A whole week without happy hour and abstaining from take-out should cover the bill, right? Of course, that's never the case and we simply incur more debt. We go out to happy hour showing off our deal and receive the delivery man at our door in the new Loubies. We barely make the minimum payment on the credit card we charged the shoes on. As we pore over the unopened bills, we think only God (or a big-hearted sugar daddy) can deliver us from this mess. I can't stress how many CLOSET DETOXES I've performed that have involved deals; this includes clients' wardrobes as well as my own.

For the time being, we'd better start listening to Suze and start paying down the principle on our cards. Most of us have the essentials in our closet already—or at least a working wardrobe. And for those of you who don't, you know it's time for a CAPSULE COLLECTION! Hey, I have to plug. I'm trying to pay down my debt, too!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trench(es) Warfare

Last night, at 1:30 in the morning, I began to try on my trench coats and quasi trenchcoats. I had no plans to go out and streak or anything of that nature. I wear clothing underneath my outerwear. I was simply analyzing why these long coats were just okay and not exactly what I wanted in a trench.

I've been chasing this trench dream for about seven years now. It first started when I saw a Yohji Yamamoto coat in either Elle or Harper's Bazaar. It was marvelously structured with molded shoulders and sleeves that bent inwards at the elbow. I wasn't able to afford it because my funds were tied up in my offshore accounts (read: I was broke). I ripped out the magazine page and saved the picture. In fact, I still have it.

Then one day I was perusing the aisles of Beacon's Closet in my old Williamsburg neighborhood. After some digging and breath holding, I stumbled upon a classic Burberry mackintosh for $49. This is back when Beacon's was quite cheap. I thought the coat was overpriced and figured I could get it for less money in a matter of time. That was six years ago and I've been on a quest to find the perfect trench ever since.

Now I own 5 trenches or quasi-trenches that do their job, but weren't quite what I was looking for when I acquired them. With every purchase I thought, "This is the one." But it never was. A collarless DKNY zip up with a cinched paperbag waist is cute. I wear it often, but Lord knows it's not what I had in mind. A perfectly acceptable Theory coat is a real trench in that it has the right collar, properly placed buttons, a storm patch, and a belt. But it has no sleeve loop. What's that about? Then there's the taffeta (yes taffeta) Catherine Malandrino with the pimp collar and gypsy-print lining. Not very practical in the rain. There's also a BCBG jacket in this weird ecru color that fits like a dream...except the button panel on the left is awkwardly sewn, so it puckers a bit. The real show stopper is a Viktor & Rolf (no, not from their H & M line-we've been over this before) black number that screams Matrix. It's a beautiful coat with every trenchy element...and then some. If I wear the collar up (as I'm prone to do), I end up looking like Count Chocula. And De Heer Horsting and De Heer Snoeren could have made the belt a tad longer.

I know all of you current and future clients are asking, "Style Therapist, why haven't you purged those jackets during your quarterly CLOSET DETOXES?" The short answer is that they're all good jackets and like my old boss would advise, I'm making them work. They look good on and serve a purpose. One is worn on mild, rainy days, another on sunny, warmer days, one's for dressier affairs; etc.

The truth is, if I tally the price for each of these facsimiles, I would have been able to purchase the real deal Burberry several times over...or maybe even a beautiful Yohji Yamamoto. I ask that you learn from my lesson of settling. If there's something you really want and your funds are tied up overseas, create a saving plan and purchase it; otherwise you'll be spending lots of money and time (and closet space) on items that don't measure up.

Friday, February 20, 2009

NYC Fashion Week: Day 8

The last day! The day of the Ralphs.

RALPH LAUREN (view the show)
Zorro Snap in Z Formation: Elizabethan ruffs and croc booties. Tweed and wool paired with silk and tulle. Ralph Lauren is all about creating a dream to aspire to. That doesn't mean it's okay to show up to a cocktail party wearing your grandaddy's raggedy sweater.

Hated It: Ralph will know this for next year: Edit! 55 looks?!?!??! Come on Lifshitz!

(view the show)
Zorro Snap in Z Formation: Just because this couture designer and FIT alum creates a runway line doesn't mean that the same amount of passion and vision isn't applied. You'd better be truly comfortable wearing the best fashion has to offer in order to pull off dramatic looks. You can't jump right out of your stained college sweatshirt into a marvelous Ralph Rucci suit and expect to be convincing.

Hated It: 59 looks?! It must be a Ralph thing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NYC Fashion Week: Day 7

Two more days folks. Zorro in Z Formation is a good thing; Hated It, not so much.

(view the show)
Zorro Snap in Z Formation: Go ahead Francisco! My favorite collection of the entire season...well, in New York anyway. Let's see what happens in Paris, Milan, and London. Aside from the progressive fabrics used, he really took his silhouettes to the next level. Those flaps and seams and marvelously peculiar collars. Parabens!

Hated It: Nothing! I hated nothing. So many designers used familiar silhouettes that were perfectly lovely, but sleep inducing. Costa maintained the austere mood of the house without allowing the severity to become too costumey.

(view the show)
Zorro Snap in Z Formation: You know, even the Style Therapist loves a minimalist approach for my personal wardrobe (yes, I used first and third person in the same sentence), that doesn't mean I can't appreciate opulence! This is what I'd imagine the cast members of Dynasty to be wearing had the show been on today.

Hated It: During the current state of the economy, many people would poo poo such displays of wealth in their clothing. But I ask, who wants to see rags? Runway show and fashion are often about fantasy and aspiration. Who wants to aspire to wear rags?

PORTS 1961
(view the show)
Zorro Snap in Z Formation: This presentation gets much better towards the end. That drapey, sequined top in look 26 and one shoulder fuchsia number in look 30 really are fire...

Hated It: And then look 34 has to come and mess up the party. O Canada. I've never found the silhouettes of this line from the great white north very flattering. Everything doesn't have to be structured and shaped just so, but if you're going to do shapeless, it shouldn't add 15 pounds and 20 years.

(view the show)
Zorro Snap in Z Formation: What magical colors! What Francisco did for fabrics and silhouette for me, Mr. Mizrahi does with color. Wake the town and tell the people! Even if this isn't your aesthetic, you must admit, this show was ALIVE!

Hated It: Remember people, runway shows are about theater. Please do not concoct a way to wear your purse as a hat.

(view the show)
Zorro Snap in Z Formation: Another designer who is very capable of the modern, young lady. Being ladylike doesn't mean walking the streets in old furs that smell like moths. Subtle, pretty prints.

Hated It: It was unfair to look at this show after Mizrahi's. Color-wise, it was anticlimactic. But this is another delivery that I have no real issues with.